Your Latitude Can Affect Your Attitude: A Look at Beauty Around the Globe

Here are my observations on how women approach beauty in four different hemispheres.
05/13/2014 03:58 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Marie Claire U.S. Health & Beauty Director Erin Flaherty recently gathered several fellow editors in New York for a Global Beauty Forum to discuss current trends in markets around the world. While the constant exchange of images, tips, tricks and trends on social media makes geographic boundaries seem meaningless, the forum revealed that attitudes and approaches to beauty still vary greatly from country to country. As a makeup artist and CEO with devoted followers around the globe, I'm constantly thinking about what makes a woman feel beautiful and how much time and energy she's willing to devote to achieve her personal ideal.

Here are my observations on how women approach beauty in four different hemispheres. Of course every individual is different and I'm always interested in hearing from you firsthand so fill me in on your approach to beauty in the comments!


As a makeup artist, educator and CEO in Australia for almost 20 years, I feel privileged to play an ongoing role in the evolution of style and beauty in my home country. Women in Australia are free, fearless and eager to learn the latest looks and techniques from their favorite artists. They don't shy away from making a statement with color or rocking a fab faux lash at any hour. That said the stereotype of the bronzed Aussie holds a good bit of truth and a golden glow is coveted by many year-round. I love that a woman will take the time to attend a master class or visit one of my Concept Stores or counters to get a makeover (no special occasion required!) and learn about the newest products and how she can update her look. In Australia it's all about keeping makeup fun and fresh and it's an attitude that inspires me year after year.

Envelope-pushing looks from my launch at Myer in Melbourne

United States

While there are undoubtedly differences in the approach to beauty from coast to coast and everywhere in between, I often find that like many things in America beauty is all about efficiency. Women will surely devote time and energy to looking their best (and knowing what's new and now) but there's nothing they love more than a multi-tasker. My Auto Pilot BBB Cream has been a huge hit stateside because women want to cover all of their bases without adding extra steps. Anti-aging? Check. Sunscreen? Check. HD Foundation? Check. This desire to address a number of issues without sacrificing efficacy constantly drives me to innovate and push for maximum benefits in every product I develop. Aging is a major concern for many women but most would rather take care of any issues with a quick fix than spend decades devoted to a strict regime, whether it means a trip to the derm or even surgery. I've found that women in the U.S are often intrigued by the approach to skincare in Europe or Asia but once they find out it requires more than a handful of steps they're on to the next!

Fresh faced and beautiful


Japan has long been viewed as the mecca of beauty innovation but since the worldwide explosion of BB cream, Korea is being viewed as a worthy contender for birthplace of "the next big thing." Korean women are obsessed with perfect skin, as Marie Claire Korea editor An So Young pointed out, and no idol is too young to emulate -- the luminous, lineless faces of K-pop stars are the beauty ideal du jour. Women are extremely selective about what products they put on their skin and skincare routines that require upward of 15 steps are not uncommon. It's considered a small price to pay for eternal youth.

K-pop duo SECRET flaunt flawless skin


The industry has long kept a watchful eye on Brazil and the country is currently on pace to overtake Japan as the second largest beauty market in the world within a few years, according to Euromonitor. While skincare often monopolizes time devoted to beauty regimes in Asia, Europe and increasingly the U.S., enviable hair and nails are absolute essentials in Brazil. Marie Claire Brazil editor Maria Claira Povia noted during the Global Beauty Forum that most middle class women spend 10 percent of their income on hair products (acknowledging that an obsession with Gisele-like locks comes at a price) and very few women would be caught without a professional manicure under any circumstance. Povia also noted that women in Brazil strive to be friendly and spontaneous -- a gentle reminder that true beauty always radiates from the inside out.

Gisele Bundchen pursues the art of perfect hair and nails even while breastfeeding!